Thoughts from the Vicarage…
February brings with it St Valentine’s Day on February 14th and, traditionally, this is the day when young couples promise to love each other for ever and begin to make wedding plans.
The Prayerbook tells us that:
“Marriage is a gift of God in creation through which husband and wife may know the grace of God. Marriage is given that, as man and woman grow together in love and trust, they shall be united with one another in heart, body and mind, as Christ is united with his bride, the Church.
“The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together in the delight and tenderness of sexual union and joyful commitment to the end of their lives. It is given as the foundation of family life in which children are born and nurtured and in which each member of the family, in good times and in bad, may find companionship, strength and comfort, and grow to maturity in love.
“Marriage is a way of life made holy by God and blessed by the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ as he was at the wedding at Cana in Galilee.” (It was at the wedding of Cana in Galilee that Jesus changed water into wine; it was a significant occasion as this was his first miracle).
“Marriage is a sign of unity and loyalty which all should uphold and honour. It enriches society and strengthens community. No one should enter into it lightly or selfishly but reverently and responsibly in the sight of almighty God.”
This is read at the beginning of every marriage service and it is only after all this has been made clear that the couple each give their consent to the other and make solemn vows, and in token of this they give each other a ring. (A ring is a good symbol for marriage since it is completely round and therefore has no end)
After the couple are married and have completed the legal formalities of signing the register, I always have a quiet word with them. Often, I base my words on some words which St Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth about 1950 years ago: Love is patient; love is kind; love envies no one; love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude, nor selfish and not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs. There are three things that last for ever: faith, hope and love and the greatest of these….. is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5 & 13)
St Paul is actually telling us about God’s love for each and every one of us but we can apply what he says about God’s love to the young couple’s love for each other.
They need to be patient with each other – after all, it’s only natural that we see things from our own point of view and, sometimes, only from our own point of view.
But in every relationship, and especially in a marriage partnership, there has to be some give and take and this takes time and patience to build and, sometimes, it takes a lot of time and a lot of patience. So be patient.
Be kind as well as patient. In any argument, someone has to give way first and you would be doing a great kindness if it was you.
The modern translation which I quoted talks about love not being boastful – in other words not bragging about what you can do or what you’ve got. But in the King James Version of the Bible, it talks about not being puffed up which I thinks has a wider meaning. It includes boasting, of course, but it also includes the pride which is too proud to say sorry. So never be too proud to say you’re sorry and never go to sleep with an argument between you still in the air.
Don’t be selfish – of course it’s very nice to have your own way but we all know how much more pleasure there is in giving rather than receiving
Don’t be quick to take offence – it’s very easy to do but it always causes resentment. And don’t, whatever you do,
keep a tally of the all the things you think your partner has done wrong – and don’t let anyone else do it either.
I’m sure you’ll agree that these words of St Paul’s are so applicable to a married couple. But let’s not forget that he was actually talking about God and his love for all of us. And, if, as they go through life, side by side, the couple have God by their side as well and involve him in everything they do, their marriage will be all the more blessed, all the more happy, all the more secure…. ’til death they do part.
God Bless & Happy Valentines, Henry